Archive for July, 2009

Square Bale Driving gives new meaning to the word fun!

July 31, 2009

It’s been one of those immensely insane busy summer days.  It started off before dawn with deer just outside my computer window to the world, in the wheat field next to the house and all around the apple trees in the yard.  Then just as breakfast was arriving for Luc and Galahad we had deer exiting the yard next to the donkey pasture.  Poor boys, they didn’t know where deer were going to pop up next!

 What a fun drive we had this morning.  The weather stayed cool compliments of a cloud cover and a sweet air moving breeze.  Luc was wound up like a top, having three coveys of quail exploding under his feet didn’t help either one of us. 

The good news is that the oat hay was put into enormous square bales weighing around 1100 pounds per bale. We headed right to the field and made circles around the bales weaving in and out, whooping and hollering… just having the time of my life.  A pair of cyclists and their dog Molly thought we looked and sounded pretty silly, can’t imagine why!  If one can’t have fun in one’s own field where can one whoop and hollar when the mood strikes? 

 On our way home we drove back to the field and played the entire length, meanwhile a combine and header was coming down the road we normally would have been driving on.  First combine I’ve seen on the road this year.  We had a cultivator with the arms up in the air pulled by a full sized tractor with dually wheels come up behind us but he pulled off into a field.  Great as there wasn’t enough room for him to go by us and no place for us to pull over.  Ahhhh two escapes that was probably my quota for the day!

 We did encounter a jogger pushing a three wheeler baby carriage, another jogger and a cyclist who would not slow down coming directly towards Galahad who did not like the looks of any of them, but he survived!  We also had two different pastures of yearling cows come running to the fence to see us; I think everyone was feeling their oats in the coolness. 

 The boy’s watching the elk picture from yesterday morning was on the photo contest today at www.equusite.com  Thank you one and all who voted for them.

 We made eight miles of cart tracks in three hours, not bad for a couple of donkey boys.

Elk at dawn

July 30, 2009
 It should have been a perfectly wonderful day to go for an early morning drive with the donkey boys.  The temperatures are going to heat up and this morning looked to stay cool enough for about a three hour drive.  The wheat harvest on some parts of the prairie has begun so my time is quickly running out to drive the gravel roads before the combines and grain trucks are out in full force. I’m now within 10 hours of driving 100 hours this season and have logged 207 miles.  Oh how I hated to miss out on this morning’s drive but it just wasn’t to be. 
 
I guess this story needs to start last night after sunset.  Outside our barn cats were fighting, the neighbors dogs were barking, coyotes were howling and the donkey boys were blowing and snorting up by the house.  We figured it was just a noisy start to the night. 
 Elk at dawn #2 7 30 09
This morning at dawn here is what we saw.  Took an early morning walk and found the source of last night’s blowing and snorting.  It seems we had elk in our driveway and not to far from the house either!  I even found baby elk prints.  Ahhh
Elk at dawn 7 30 09
It’s going to take some time for the boys to settle down as of right now they are in full blown Guard Donkey Mode!  Even breakfast was not at the top of their list of important things to conquer today.  As of right now they are hiding in the far back pasture and are still pretty jumpy.
 
Hopefully we’ll go driving tomorrow, looks like they get a day off today to just be donkeys and think about guarding their domain from the local elk herd.  Looks like the wolves are chasing the elk out of their natural habitat!  Sure plays heck with my driving.  Maybe I’d better go driving in the mountains if they are all moving to the prairie….
 

 Donkey's Elk Watching at dawn 7 30

Later on this afternoon Luc is still looking for the dozen or so elk… he has Galahad searching towards the east and south while he looks north and west.  Galahad on the other hand thinks sniffing for them may not be a bad idea either!

Don't smell 'em Luc!  7 30 09

When Regal Gold meets Royal Blue

July 29, 2009

The golden wheat fields across the horizon now touch the crisp sapphire skies, giving one the feeling of being amongst royalty!  I saw my first combine in a field today and we were passed by a 30 foot combine header going off to work somewhere soon.  We drove by a field that looked ready to cut on one end but a good week away on the other side.  The wheat is so tall now that Galahad really has to crank his head up to see over especially on the hill sides.  Fortunately for us most of the wheat is still a ways off from being ready to harvest.

 We are not running out of firsts.  We had a pair of cyclists this time with a Springer Spaniel that would have liked to come after the donkeys but the owner him leashed.  That was a real good one for the boys.  We had a person out walking, again an excellent opportunity and we stopped to visit with everyone.  We flushed a doe and fawn out of our turn around spot.  Other than that it was a pretty uneventful drive. I watched a hawk making lazy circles in the heavens catching thermos and enjoying the ride.

 We drove seven miles this morning and took a leisurely three hours to do it in.  207 miles and 89 ½ hours, life is good.

Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ keep those wheels a rollin’, Rawhide!

July 28, 2009

 The pinnacle of donkey driving success was reached today as Teamdonk scored 200 miles of driving.  This was Galahad’s 36th hitched drive and Luc’s 39th drive for the season.  I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful team to go for recreational drives with.  I’m also glad I made the decision to just stay home this year and enjoy driving.  No shows, no fairs and just some local fun parades and miles and miles of prairie driving under constant scenery changes.

 Now let me tell you what we did today after we had a terrific road drive.  I have always wanted to drive in our neighbor’s harvested bluegrass field.  For one thing there are plenty of draws and hills to play on and some great flat areas to work on “Field Dressage Driving” and this is a very large tract of ground.  What I didn’t know was how smooth or rough it would be to drive in.  The tops of the hills are smooth as a baby’s butt perfect for circles and figure eights; going thru some of the draws I discovered today can be a challenge, which adds to the fun.  This is going to make a great place to play while harvest is in progress and the roads are to busy to drive on.  It’s close to our farm and I should be able to drive thru our fields to access it.  Just for fun I did drive in one of our hay fields and found it terribly bumpy, I liked the bluegrass field much better. Fortunately our drive ended before the storm clouds moved in and the winds kicked up. 

 I am driving the team to a Pacific Carriage two wheeled Show Cart with a team pole, I love it and so do they! 

Time to pop the cork and celebrate the Donkey Boys and their superb achievement!

Life is Simple; Eat, Sleep and Drive Donkeys

July 27, 2009

After a weekend off we had a pretty nice uneventful drive.  We were passed by a bicycle coming downhill at us, which was a first.  The boys were stopped and it happened on the hill coming out of Day Canyon, they had very little reaction.  Was out for 2 hours and 15 minutes and we traveled a little over 6 miles.  We did a jog trot and that bumped our speed up to 6.14 mph.  We only had 11 minutes of stopping this morning.   For July the temperatures could not have been more perfect, mid 60’s and 70’s with a slight breeze with lots of bright sunshine.

 Over the weekend I recalculated our total time so with today’s trip we are at 84 hours and 194.5 total miles.

Galahad had another saddling session when we unharnessed; this will become a daily occurrence.  I threw the saddle up on Luc and Galahad was pretty much beside himself over it.  Checked the cinch sizes on Luc and then switched the saddle to Galahad.  Saddling was easier today than yesterday as was our walk.  We went past the driveway, to the west field entrance and again I proceeded to slap the saddle and moved the stirrups around.  Galahad finally settled down and when he did I took the pressure off and we came home.  Did some mailbox work on the way and all was good!

Saddle Up!

July 27, 2009

“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, don’t fence me in. Let me ride through the wide open country that I love, don’t fence me in…. ” Ella Fitzgerald wrote it and I’ve loved it since the first moment I heard Bing Crosby, Gene Autry and a whole host of others sing it just to me! 

Galahad Saddled 7 26 09

Galahad today is your day to start making this happen.  “I’m not going to let this be a quick process,” Galahad told me, “it’s going to take plenty of time and a barrel of treats and that’s just to say okay to the saddle pad!”  Galahad’s eyes were huge when the saddle started towards him so I took it nice and slow, oh and a whole lot of treats to make it all okay!  Then when it came time to do up the cinches…you guessed it more treats.  We worked slowly and carefully and kept it all low-key.  Finally the cinches were done up loosely so I could move the saddle back and forth on his back and the britchin was dropped down, for just a moment, Galahad thought about lying down.  I knew his feet needed to start moving and so I didn’t waste any time. 

 Luc was right there on the other side of the fence walking all the way with us, just like he has with all the others that have been started here. 

Galahad relaxed and we stopped.  He liked getting his neck stroked but was not wild about me reaching back to tap on the saddle.  That brought him to life so we did it several more times.  I moved him to my other side and again first on the neck then to the saddle and this time he jumped and moved off into a circle.  That was fine as he came right back to me and we repeated the lesson several more times until he could stand quietly.  Okay, so there were more treats involved.  We walked to the end of the driveway a number of times and when the hump disappeared from under the saddle he was tied up and unsaddled.  Again taking off each piece slow and easy, except for the saddle pad which was tossed like a green salad and rubbed all over and under him many times.

Galahad did get to investigate the saddle again after the ordeal had come to a conclusion and he managed another bite sized treat out of that whole deal.  When it was all over he thought he would head to the pasture shelter to watch the thunder and lightening storms the rest of the afternoon and think about life.

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love, don’t fence me in….

Deer are our friends

July 24, 2009

Took the Robert’s Buggy out today, it was the first time I have hitched it by myself and found it easy to handle, it weights 445 lbs.  The Pacific Cart weighs in at 200 lbs.  On these steep hills I am ready to go back to the cart, what a difference that extra 245 pounds made during today’s drive.  It’s back to the lightweight cart for me and the boys!

 On our drive today we picked up a passenger, our neighbor Judy who has been trying to get her schedule to jive with mine.  Today was our day! 

Interesting thing happened when the donkey boys were turned loose in the pasture.  A pretty doe came walking right up the lane and up to the fence to see the boys.  They obliged and walked over to see her.  We had deer and donkeys communicating for about ten minutes before she slowly wandered off into the yard. 

 

looking for apples 8 02

 All the time Judy and I were visiting and watching this unusual threesome.  The deer was comfortable as were the boys.  No stomping or blowing it was just a let’s all be friends moment.  I was about blown away!

 It was our 34th drive giving us 83.5 total driving hours 188.5 miles at 4 miles per hour.

 

Bicycles to Semis

July 23, 2009

The Pacific Show Cart with the team pole is retiring today, it’s now washed and ready to slide into storage.  There are just too many harvested fields that are begging to be driven in.  Will have to make calls and get permission but I’m thinking it is rubber tire buggy time. 

 Galahad had a strange moment in today drive and I’ll be telling you about it later.  We had a couple of Firsts today, right at the beginning of our trip.  Coming down Day Canyon and looking across to the far road I could see something was on its way towards us.  It took a few minutes for me to figure out what it was and wonder what kind of a reaction I was going to get.  The boys finally spotted it and were very intrigued.  We were able to get into a pull out as they got closer.  Once the boys could hear human voices they began to settle.  We’ve seen these folks before and yesterday one of them was just ahead of us and turned before we met up.  Timing was perfect for the boys to see their first bicycle riders.  We had a great visit and of course they had lots of questions about the donkey boys.  We have driven past their place but it was the first time Joe had seen our donkey team setup. 

Before we encountered them Galahad was tossing his head in the air so I knew something was not right but was unable to see the front of him to figure out what was going on.  Coming out of Day Canyon the boys have a favorite stopping place.  This morning it was full of cattle but neither donkeys nor the cow calf pairs seemed to mind, we were all separated by a fence line.  As I was pulling into the spot I could see what was upsetting Galahad.  His headstall was not buckled up tight.  We pulled into the resting area and for the first time ever without a helper, I exited the cart.  They were fine and stood quietly while I made the repair, got back in and rested before we were ready to go.

On the way back from our five plus mile loop we got in on some round bales being loaded onto a trailer and stacked three high onto a semi trailer.  The corner where we make the turn for home was pretty congested with a diesel pickup, a four wheeler with a sprayer and a smaller pickup load of boys backing towards us.  We all arrived at the corner at the same time, a prairie Grand Central Station! 

 Coming home is where Galahad decided to do something very strange.  As we were about to pass our hay field he decided he wanted to go into the field, I couldn’t see any harm in it and was wondering what he was up to so let him go.  He went straight to where one of the round bales had been made a big loop and headed back up the hill and onto the road.  That was interesting! 

 It has been awhile since we had driven past our lane and even though the sun was warm the air was still on the cool side so I made the decision to drive on down the road.  Glad I did as the semi load of round bales stacked three high came flying past us as we sat in the turn around pull out.  It made Galahad flinch but that was about it.  We turned around and pulled into the next pull out spot where we got dusted once more by another semi again coming up behind us going to pick up bluegrass seed from the same field they were hauling hay out of.  It seems semi trucks can not be bothered to slow down on these narrow gravel roads.  It’s starting to get busy around here as I notice this afternoon trucks are flying up and down our road. 

 Stats: 53 degrees earlier this morning and 75 degrees by 10 am and cloudy.  5.37 miles, 4.0 max speed at a walk 2 hrs and 30 minutes.  Totals: 81.5 driving hours, 183.5 miles on our 33rd drive.  No change in Luc’s hoof wall.  Frank is coming soon to take a look at it and he liked my idea that I still have not told you about!

Heating Up!

July 22, 2009

Earliest hitch to date, I think we were going down the road at 6:30 this morning, temperature was in the forties and it felt wonderful.  The boys were even feeling it!  This was an all walking drive with Luc staying in the softer ground in the ditch and off the gravel for the most part due to his hind hoof wall…see yesterday’s post and photo.  The hoof was no worse after the trip than when we started I am happy to report.   I also came up with a theory to fix it.  I will see if it flies with the farrier before I let you in on it.

Did a six mile loop; maximum speed at a walk was 4.7 mph, had to be on the way home as Galahad was really moving out.  We were out driving for 2 hours and 20 minutes.  At 9 am the temp was 75, was glad to be home and unharnessed. We had one nice long visit with a neighbor.  At 90 degree temperatures the crops are turning fast, looks like the next ten days will be hot ones.

I’m thinking that I need to switch vehicles to the Robert’s buggy so we can enjoy some of the hay fields to go driving in, Luc thought he would like that too!  We could take some cones and have a real playground.

The more you know…..

July 20, 2009

The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know and the more you know you have to learn…..  I’m just throwing that out there because I thought it not only sounded kewell but is ever so true!

 July is like a roaring range bull around here, sometimes you just want to get outta his way and go hide.  I thought this morning I was going to have plenty of time before it got hot as it was only 43 degrees so I drug my heels and didn’t get out to the guys as soon as Luc thought I should.  We were tacked up and going down the road by 8:15, that’s only an hour later than normal.  It sure made a difference temperature wise.  Today we drove to a construction site. It’s a lovely home being built just a mile from where I have been employed for the last twelve years on the outskirts of town.  As we got closer I could see one of the company work trucks so thought I’d go say hi to whoever was doing the job.  This drive turned out to be a grand idea as finding a daily challenge is getting tougher as the donkey boys continue to get better and better. 

On our way home we ran over two cans hidden in the ditch with the cart wheel and a six foot spook was all I could muster out of that last crunching incident. 

Galahad and I saw lots of deer; I think Luc missed about half of them.  Looking closely into the fields all you see this time of the year is their heads peaking out of the crops.  But once they start running its fun to watch them jump at each step.  Galahad was intrigued with four foot by eight foot square bales in a field and today’s round bales were neatly wrapped, he was fine with both varieties.    

It’s now time to catch you up on some totals.  Today was their 31st drive.  We were out for 2 hrs and 45 minutes with 15 minutes of resting time.  We had an 8 mile trip and our maximum speed was 8.6 mph.  Grand totals put us at 172 miles at about 76.5 hours.

Here are today’s photos…. This three year old donkey had a dental problem that caused his nose to swell; today he had a tooth cap removed. 

Merlin nose

This is Luc’s hind hoof , looks like it is breaking down along the weakened ridge line, am waiting to hear from the farrier on what to do. 

Luc's hind hoof 7 20 09